Calgary real estate market flush with luxury homes
Oil prices may have stabilized, but some say wealthy Calgarians are spooked by Alberta's NDP government
If you're looking for a luxury home, Calgary is the place to be.
In May, there were more than 600 homes for sale in the city listed at more than $1 million. Only 65 of them sold last month, which suggests there's nine months of inventory on the market. For every 10 new listings, there were two sales. The rest of the Calgary's real estate market is holding up through the downturn, but the luxury market is pretty quiet.
And I hate to say it, there's some uncertainty about the NDP.- Len Wong, ReMax realtor
"The big thing we've noticed, some people have put product on to sell because of the drop in oil," said realtor Len Wong. "And I hate to say it, there's some uncertainty about the NDP."
The Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB) released its sales numbers for May today, showing that while activity is 25 per cent lower for the overall market, the average price of $478,790 is only lower by 1.5 per cent from May 2014. May is typically the busiest month of the year in real estate.
But in Calgary last month, it took an average of 40 days to sell a home, about 50 per cent longer than last year.
"We still have more people employed today than we had last year, " said Anne Marie Lurie, the chief economist of the CREB. "The job losses that we're seeing are mostly in the energy sector."
It is the energy sector that drives the luxury segment of the market — typically defined as homes worth more than $1 million.
"We've noticed that people are waiting to see what's going to happen," said Wong. "Oil stabilized around 60 [dollars a barrel], all indicators are showing that it's stabilized to a degree. Then the PCs getting bumped out. A lot of the high-end people that I've talked to say, 'Now oil is stable, but there's uncertainty with the government.'"
Nearly 70 per cent of the homes sold in the Calgary region in May went for less than $500,000. That segment of the housing market is helping underpin Calgary numbers overall.
"If you're in the public sector — police, teacher, fireman, nurse — not related to oil and gas, those are the buyers," said Wong, "That's why you don't see the high end going up."